School cuts to affect buses

Published 2:06 am Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Proposed budget cuts would cost Brewton City Schools between $250,000 and $350,000 next year — on top of proration in the current fiscal year, Superintendent Lynn Smith said.

Gov. Robert Bentley has proposed cuts in the Education Trust Fund that would likely cut state transportation funding as well as what is known as “other current expense” — the money that funds many school systems’ operation expenses, Smith said.

“For us, that is all personnel,” he said. “We hire school secretaries and other staff from that.”

For Brewton City Schools, transportation is not as big an expense as it is for other systems, but it will grow next year with the opening of the new Brewton Middle School, located on U.S. 31 North.

Smith said he expects the city schools to survive the budget cuts. “We may have to borrow from ourselves from the bond issue,” he said, referring to a $10 million bond issue that is funding the new middle school.

Smith also said he expects a proposal to increase teachers’ share of their healthcare and retirement costs to pass.

On Tuesday, the Alabama Senate approved a bill that would limit spending increases in the Education Trust Fund, a move that proponents said would save money for a rainy day and limit the need for proration.

Smith noted that even if the Education Trust Fund grows 5 percent every year, it would still take years for the budget to reach the level it was at before the economy began to force massive cuts four years ago.

Also Tuesday, the state Senate passed a bill that would repeal the DROP program, an incentive program for teachers and public employees to continue working and draw retirement benefits.